University of Leiden offers free online law course via Coursera

Leiden University just became the first Dutch university to offer a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), entitled "The Law of the European Union: An Introduction," on online learning platform Coursera.

Coursera was started about a year ago, and offers hundreds of online courses at top universities. The courses are free, have no entry requirements or preliminary examination, and therefore aim to make high quality education available to anyone with an internet connection.

The course at Leiden will start in May 2013. Over 10.000 people from all over the world have enrolled since it was announced. Leiden is the first university to offer a course in the field of International and European Law.

The course will last 5 weeks and require a time investment of 5 to 8 hours per week. Instead of through full lectures, the material will be presented in short video clips of about 10 minutes.

Practice questions and case assignments will enhance participants' understanding of the material, and they will be able to interact with each other on discussion forums. If they pass the final examination, they will receive a Statement of Accomplishment.

Leiden is also looking into new, advanced functionality on the Coursera platform, such as automated peer grading, which would allow students to assess each other’s written assignments via an automated and user-friendly process.

This is Leiden's first experiment with MOOCs, but probably not its last. The ability to provide education to people who don't normally have access to high quality education, and to reach a global audience, have undeniable appeal.

As the course instructor, Stefaan Van den Bogaert puts it, "If you consider that just under 5.000 students study at the Faculty of Law, and that after two months, without any significant publicity, twice as many people have already registered for this online course, you will immediately see the potential of such a MOOC."

You can find out more about the course here.

Carly Blair


Carly Blair



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